The Difference-Maker

Twice a day for forty days, the stalemate continued. The Philistines’ pride was Goliath, 9½ feet tall. Fully armed and extremely intimidating, Goliath repeatedly dared Israel to put forward a man to fight him. There were no takers.

Except one

When David the young shepherd arrived on the scene, he heard Goliath’s challenge. His reaction was totally different from everyone else’s: “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).

When David announced he would take on the giant, King Saul was skeptical. David then cited the times he had successfully killed a lion and bear that attacked his flock. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).

When David went out to face Goliath, he said, “. . . I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel . . . . This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands . . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel . . .“ (vv. 45-46).

In a few moments it was all over. Goliath lay prone on the ground, beheaded.

The Philistines fled, with Israel in hot pursuit.

So what made the difference?

Note in David’s statements quoted above he consistently expresses confidence in God.

To Saul’s army, it was Goliath versus Israel. To David, it was Goliath versus God.

And he knew which had the greater Power by far.

We deal today with the same God David did.

Oh, to believe as David did!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Problem with Complaining

For forty long years God endured Israel’s perpetual complaints in the wilderness. Instead of remembering how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and instead of eagerly anticipating the land of milk and honey God had promised them, they kept grousing about their trials along the way.

In all this they betrayed both their ingratitude and lack of faith in their benevolent Provider.

We’re supposed to learn something from them: how not to be.

“Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction . . .” (1 Corinthians 10:9-11).

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world . . .” (Philippians 2:14-15).

                                                Ode to a Grouch

Grumble, murmur, whine, complain.

Air your grievance; don’t refrain.

“Woe is me!”–yes, sing that song.

Sing it loud and sing it long.

And to make it even worse,

Sing the same song, second verse.

Let them know that you’re upset.

Just make sure they don’t forget.

Keep on griping–don’t be shy.

Bellyache until you die.

But after all is done and said,

Will they miss you when you’re dead?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Police Who Deserve Our Respect

Bad Apples

Every vocation has them: unethical or incompetent individuals who give their profession an undeserved bad name.

But has there been a time in recent memory when the police have been so vilified as they are today? It’s a wonder anyone these days would choose law enforcement for a career.

Granted, there are those wearing badges who are bullies or racists.

They’re the exceptions.

But the majority are public servants in the best sense, courageously willing to be placed in harm’s way, who would pull out their guns only as a last resort.

Think how stressful it must be for those whose duty it is to investigate domestic disturbances, drug trafficking, and other potentially volatile situations in our increasingly violent world.

And what must it be like for their spouses and loved ones?

A call for common sense

Imagine your community without law enforcement: no one to call when you desperately need protection from those who have absolutely no respect for law and order.

Recently I talked with an officer whose duty it is to handle fraud cases. It was obvious he genuinely cared about those who are scam victims.

Everyone should read what the apostle Paul wrote about our obligation to submit to governmental authorities. God has ordained government, he says, to keep order and to restrain wrongdoers. “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God . . . .” (Romans 13:1-7).

We are to pray for “all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

In light of all the messiness, danger, and disrespect they must deal with on a daily basis, the police are definitely underpaid and underappreciated.

May the Lord watch over those who watch out for us!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Covered

Grace and more grace!

As the prophet Micah wrote regarding God’s intention to restore His unfaithful people Israel, “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

Today Christ offers the same grace. As Peter told those who had clamored for Jesus’ death, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

And for Christians who sin after conversion: “. . . if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin . . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).

What forgiveness means

It means we don’t have to keep carrying around an unbearable load of guilt.

It means we can experience God’s grace instead of His wrath.

It means we don’t have to go to hell.

It means we have a future—something to live for and so much to look forward to.

What a relief!

From his own personal experience with God, David wrote, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).

Somewhere on the ocean floor of God’s fathomless grace, David’s sins lie buried.

Ours can lie there right beside his.

And no sonar will find them—ever.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Jesus Knows How It Feels

He came into the world to suffer. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, temptation, poverty, the agonies of death at its worst.

Slandered by His enemies, rejected by those He came to bless, and mocked even as He was paying the ultimate price for their redemption and ours: His blood.

“. . . He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest . . . . For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).

“Once He came,” wrote Fulton Sheen, “then never again could they say, ‘He does not know what it is like to suffer’” (Life is Worth Living, 209).

For the Christian, here’s one of the most comforting promises in Scripture: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Shouldn’t that be sufficient to lift our spirits on a dark day?

He suffered. He understands. He cares!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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He Chose

The man who held true

He chose to be trustworthy on the job, even though it was not a job of his choosing. He chose to maintain his high moral standards when the boss’ wife kept seducing him. He chose to keep his faith in God in spite of being treated so unfairly by others.

Thirteen years after being forced out of his homeland, Joseph was elevated to second in command in Egypt. Even in this exalted position he kept on choosing.

He chose to remain humble and not let power go to his head. He chose to forgive his brothers when he had ample opportunity to take revenge.

The God who works behind the scenes

Had he reacted as many would have in his situation, would we have the benefit of his story in Genesis?

God did not cause Joseph’s brothers to hate and mistreat him. God did not cause Potiphar’s wife to seduce Joseph and lie about him.

And yet God could use these trying circumstances to accomplish His good purpose (Romans 8:28). As Joseph told his brothers, “. . . you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

But even before Joseph could see what God was doing, he kept trusting. He remained faithful.

The greatest tragedy is not suffering. The greatest tragedy is to suffer and never find our place in God’s great plan. When we do discover our place, then God can really use us as He used Joseph.

It is then that our suffering bears its sweetest fruit.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Only God Can Make a Man

A designer with a lower-case “d”

A few years ago we visited with a man who helped design a life-size robot of Abraham Lincoln. Not only did it look realistic, but it could even stand up and make a speech. The designer showed us the schematics of its inner workings—a true marvel of human intelligence and engineering.

The designer made the robot, but God made the designer.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves . . .” (Psalm 100:3).

As David said, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a).

Using His God-given faculties, David could sling a stone with precision, play the harp with skill, and contemplate his Creator.

The Designer with an upper-case “D”

What David wrote 3,000 years ago about the wonders of the human body we can now say with even greater conviction, knowing as we do so much more about the intricacies of DNA coding within each living cell.

Who could possibly create such complexities but God? With ultrasound technology we can see what David could only imagine: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb . . .” (Psalm 139:13).

Last week I marveled at a framed sonogram of our granddaughter at about the 7th month of gestation. She is now nine years old.

“Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14b).

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Adapted from an article by JDG in the daily devotional guide Power for Today

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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